Councilor Lawrence Andre made an attempt to lower the property tax levy by one mill, based on savings the city is reaping from a street light purchase program. His motion did not get a second.
Andre prefaced the motion by saying Mayor Laura McConwell had made a “courageous” decision to invest in infrastructure improvement and raising the money to pay for the investment.
In 2014, for the first time, Andre said, there are dedicated funds to pay for infrastructure: “we do have a direction.” He added, “I believe it is time to start lowering property taxes in the general fund.” Andre was joined by Jennifer Cowdry in voting against the budget and the budget policies.
Among the budget policies approved was holding the general fund mill rate constant at 10.361 and the debt service rate constant at 1.049 for a total mill rate of 11.41. The policy statement also maintains the storm water utility fee, the transportation utility fee and the solid waste fee with no increases. Property values were flat this year in Mission, which is a reversal of the decline seen in the last couple of years.
The solid waste fee pays for trash collection and is being held at $163.08 per year for single-family properties. The transportation fee supports the street program and costs $72 per year per residence. The storm water fees pay off existing storm water improvement debt and an anticipated project called the Johnson Drive Interceptor. For a single-family home, the storm water fee runs $276 per year. The fees are collected as part of the tax bill.
The property tax rate is anticipated to raise the same amount of money next year and while the amount spent in the general fund is up slightly more than revenue for 2014, the ending balance will remain unchanged. Mission collects far more in sales tax to support the general fund than it does in property tax.
Assistant City Administrator Laura Smith said the budget accomplishes adding a crew member in the Public Works Department, an Information/Innovation Officer, replacement of financial management software and full funding for facility and equipment needs without any tax increases.